DAVID DEAN TOWN, Bong – Citizens of Boisien sub-district in Bong’s Kokoyah Statutory District are hailing Accountability Lab for its intervention in educating them about the mineral development agreement signed between the government of Liberia and MNG Gold.
MNG Gold is a Turkish gold mining company extracting gold in Boisien district.
As part of its Building Better Governance in Mining Areas project, Accountability Lab has been simplifying the language of mineral development agreements, also known as MDA, to allow citizens to better understand their rights and responsibilities.
According to Lawrence Yealue, the organization’s country representative, access to the simplified version of the document will enable citizens to be better equipped to hold the government and concession companies more accountable.
At a recent community forum with residents of David Dean Town, Accountability Lab distributed copies of the company’s MDA.
“So, our role here is to bring the government, citizens, and the company together; [to] make information available to the citizens as per the agreement,” Yealue said. “If you know your rights as a citizen, when you are very educated as to what you should get, you make the right request.”
Some of the citizens who spoke during the forum lauded Accountability Lab for the initiative. One of those was the town chief, Philip Duo, who noted that residents were not involved in the decision to award the areas near them to MNG Gold for mining.
He said the decision was made in Monrovia by national leaders, and the company was only seen in the area without the knowledge of local leaders and citizens.
He said the citizens have not had the opportunity to peruse the MDA to know and clearly understand the benefits they are owed.
“People, thank you, very much for coming today to help educate us and make us understand our role and responsibility as citizens,” Duo said.
A youth leader in the district, Emmanuel Bondo, told reporters following the forum that he and other youth would use the copy of the MDA to educate other citizens who did not attend the meeting.
Bondo said having a copy of the MDA will further strengthen their advocacy efforts because the document clearly spells out their entitlements.
“Based on the document that they gave us, we will go through it and begin to engage our leaders constructively,” Bondo told reporters.
MNG Gold’s community liaison officer, Keith Gboe, was also present and he hailed Accountability Lab for engaging the citizens and the company to discuss the MDA and help build a peaceful environment.
He said most citizens do not know how to engage the company for social benefits, adding that the forum was in the interest of the citizens and the company as well.
With funding from GIZ, through Citizen Helpdesks, Accountability Lab is implementing the project in two mining areas: Bea Mountain in New Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount and MNG Gold in Kokoyah, Bong.
Featured photo by Moses Bailey